Finding Music

Posted: January 21, 2020 in Blog
Tags: , , ,

I grew up in a household that wasn’t terribly focused on music. In a recent conversation with my mother, she mentioned how she and my dad loved showtunes and had the soundtracks of some of the more popular musicals. I asked her if they listened to them with we kids, and she, of course, said ‘no’. No particular reason why; it just didn’t happen. The radio was rarely on when we were around the house, even though we had a nice stereo that my father, the engineer, had built from a kit. It just wasn’t a musical family.

My two sisters and myself did get piano lessons. This was a sort of “expected” thing. You just put your kids in there and waited to see what would happen. My older sister excelled at it, and I do remember sitting on the bench with her or in a nearby chair and listening as she played some of the greats of classical music. She even played some songs from films. I heard her laboring over “The Entertainer“, and I loved it.

This didn’t get me exposed to any popular music of the time, though. The other exposure we had to music was via the 8-track player in our Buick. I think it was a Skylark. I don’t remember, but it was curvy, white, and fast. The tunes, though, not so much. My parents’ vast collection consisted of three tapes, all greatest hits from Glen Campbell, John Denver, and Elvis Presley. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t lend to too much rockin’ in the car as we drove around.

John Denver's Hits

As you might surmise from my mention of 8-track and the Buick Skylark, this was before the internet. You couldn’t just get on your computer or device and find an endless treasure trove of nearly all music ever recorded. But wait, what about MTV? Well, that started in 1981, and by then, my father had moved us out to the country. So, even in those days of nascent cable television, it wasn’t even available where I grew up.

What was a poor lad to do? Well, buy records from K-Tel, of course! These commercials would come on, and during them, samples of songs would play over some announcer lauding the benefits of the product. There’d also be eye-catching graphics of the contributing artists available beyond just those chosen for a short audio sample during the ad. The albums were actually good deals with great collections, so my parents got some for us.

K-Tel_logo

Before long, we had K-Tel’s Full Tilt, Soundwaves, Rock 80, and Pure Rock. This allowed me exposure to many new songs as well as being able to listen to some I had caught on the radio during those rare few times when listening to the local pop or rock station. “My Sharona” was the earliest one I remember hearing when it was new, and I loved it. This was the first song that actually got me to turning on the radio in hopes of hearing it. When we got that record, I could listen to it all I wanted. Other songs to quickly become favorites were “I Was Made For Loving You“, “I Wanna Be Your Lover“, and “Don’t Look Back“. There were many, many more. I’ve provided the links; feel free to check them out. I’d while away hours just listening and grooving to these songs. Without these records, I would have never heard this gem, and they provided my first exposure to New Wave, which I loved. It was well worth it. What an education.

Numan SNL

In time, I learned more about music and was able to drive myself the long trek to the nearest mall or record store to scratch my itch. I owed a lot, though, to those K-Tel records. My mom says she still has them. Maybe I should dig them out and dust ’em off for a play. Oh, except, no record player. Ah, well, at least we have YouTube.

Comments
  1. Justin Elkins says:

    I grew up listening to Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Elvis, and Loretta Lynn. My two older sisters listened to whatever was “pop” for there time, 60s and 70s greats. My friends, from the time I was 9 or so, listened to and became fanatical fans of Aerosmith, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin. Later, in my teens, I had the odd friend or two listening to Bowie, Lou Reed, or Iggy Pop. Most all my concert-going friends were into AC/DC, Pink Floyd, and Blue Oyster Cult. Yet, through all that exposure, I fell in love with high energy disco, house music, and radical groups like the Dead Kennedys, Death of Samantha, and Skinny Puppy; my tastes were all over the place. Posters on my walls were, of course, Farrah Fawcette, but also Dolly Parton, Dionne Warwick, and Andy Gibb. I think we find our music in the stream of life. It flows out of doorways of honky-tonk bars, dance clubs, and ice cream parlors. You hear it issuing from speakers while you lie on the beach, thumb through albums at the record store, or riding in friend’s cars a moment before they switch the station on you, leaving you with an earworm of a song you have to find. I’m not even sure if we find our music or it finds us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • scott says:

      Great reply. Thanks! I am fascinated by such journeys, especially those which occurred prior to the “ease” of being able to find music via the internet.

      Like

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